I follow Bob Vila on Twitter and there are a lot of days that he has a tip that is spot-on perfect. And then are days like this. “10 things to consider when buying a new couch.” Let’s just say I’m guessing Bob doesn’t have many pets.
In 2010, we began a complete makeover of a small family room. In this case, complete meant stripping the room down to the studs and up to the roof rafters. You can see a bunch of pictures from that project here, but this post is about furniture. If you look at the picture at the right, you won’t see a couch. We had to throw it out. We relocated most of the furniture from that room, but there just wasn’t anywhere to put a couch, and we didn’t like the old couch anyway. When the room was finally finished (don’t ask for a date) we bought a new couch. While Bob touched on a couple of topics that we took into consideration, I can’t give him 10 out of 10.
My wife hates to shop for furniture so my daughter and I made a pre-shopping-trip shopping trip. We checked out four of the leading furniture stores in the area. It helped that my daughter was also looking to buy a new couch. We narrowed the field to one major store so, a week later, I went back to the store with my wife.
Our number one concern was size. As you can see, the room is narrow and it is divided on both long sides by doorways. There’s enough room for a couch that I can lay down on (6’ 2”) but not much more. We quickly discovered that a change in couch design over the years added a new term to the size equation. My wife is only 5’ 2” and on about 40% of the couches in the store, she could either have her knees bend over the front edge or have her back against the back of the couch.
The next question was “will the dog like it?”
Of course, that isn’t a single question. It’s more like: Can the dog get up on the couch? Is the height of the armrest correct for the dog’s head? Will the cushions stay in place when the dog flips around? And, will the material hold up to a dog?
Color was kind of a consideration, although the seat cushions will spend most of their life covered with a color-coordinated sheet. That’s because, well, if you have a dog, you know. We also have two cats, so food that they see for the second time and hairballs are possible. While it’s true that Olympic sprinters can make it from the kitchen to the family room in time to relocate the soon-to-be-offending kitty, we aren’t sprinters and our cats wait until we’re at the other end of the house to start hacking. So, having something you can toss into the washer or, on a particularly bad day, replace, is a good idea.
We settled on a couch with black fabric, three seat cushions and three, permanently attached back cushions. It wasn’t particularly expensive, but that’s not to say that it was cheap. Given that the dog will spend more time on it than me, it was way more than I had hoped to pay. The sales clerk shocked us a bit when he said:
“OK, you’re going to go with one of our disposable sofas.”
See, in the store, it’s a sofa. It’s part of a “conversation area group.” It only turns into a couch after it’s delivered and a cat pukes on it.
Anyway, our response was: “Disposable?”
“Yes. That sofa is designed for people who prefer to change their décor every 2-3 years. It’s good quality but it won’t hold up to constant use.”
Well, it’s been 4 years and the sofa has held up well to one older gentle Irish Setter and one dingbat Irish Setter puppy, not to mention two cats.